Yeshua: His Better Covenant ~ Part 7a

Messianic Jews 10:1-10
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, we examined Messianic Jews 9:23-28 concerning Yeshua As the Sufficient Offering for Our Sins. In this post, we’ll continue our mini-series on Yeshua: His Better Covenant by digging into Messianic Jews 10:1-10 ~ The Superiority and Finality of the New Covenant by examining Yeshua As the Once for All Sacrifice. Once again, I will break this passage into two parts. In this post, we will cover verses 1-7.

Yeshua As the Once for All Sacrifice

1 For the Torah has in it a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestation of the originals. Therefore, it can never, by means of the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, bring to the goal those who approach the Holy Place to offer them. 2 Otherwise, wouldn’t the offering of those sacrifices have ceased? For if the people performing the service had been cleansed once and for all, they would no longer have sins on their conscience. 3 No, it is quite the contrary ~ in these sacrifices is a reminder of sins, year after year. 4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5 This is why, on coming into the world, he says, “It has not been your will to have an animal sacrifice and a meal offering; rather, you have prepared for me a body. 6 No, you have not been pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. 7 Then I said, ‘Look! In the scroll of the book, it is written about me. I have come to do your will.’” 8 In saying first, “You neither willed nor were pleased with animal sacrifices, meal offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings,” things which are offered in accordance with the Torah; 9 and then, “Look, I have come to do your will”; he takes away the first system in order to set up the second. 10 It is in connection with this will that we have been separated for God and made holy, once and for all, through the offering of Yeshua the Messiah’s body. ~ Messianic Jews 10:1-10 (CJB)

To the author to the Messianic Jews, the whole business of sacrifice was only a copy of what real worship ought to be. The purpose of religion is to bring humanity into a close relationship with God, and that is what these sacrifices could never do. The best that they could do was to give a distant and spasmodic contact with God.

Shadow… originals. The notion of earthly copies and heavenly originals is Hebraic and grounded in the Tanakh, but here it is expressed in Hellenistic imagery drawn from Plato’s Republic.[1]

The author brings proof. Year by year the sacrifices of the Tabernacle and especially Yom Kippur go on. A valid thing does not need to be repeated; the very fact of the repetition of these sacrifices is the final proof that they are not purifying humanity’s souls and not giving full and uninterrupted access to God. Our author goes further ~ he says that all they are is a reminder of sin. So far from purifying a man, they remind him that he is not redeemed and that his sins still stand between him and God.

In effect, he is saying: “Without the Messiah, you cannot get beyond the shadows of God.”

The Torah has in it a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestation (or “image”) of the originals. The author does not belittle the Torah but gives it its place in the unfolding of God’s work in history. In respect to the sacrificial system, the Messiah’s death and entry into the heavenly Holiest Place brings to humanity an actual manifestation here and now of what the Torah previewed, namely, the good things still to come when Yeshua returns.

But the argument does not extend to other components of the Torah. First of all, just as Sha’ul at Galatians 3:17-25 uses the term Torah to refer to only its legal aspects, the author of this book frequently uses Torah in reference only to its food and drink and various ceremonial washings (9:10), not its moral elements. Secondly, nothing is said one way or another about Jewish rituals unconnected with the sacrificial system, such as kashrut or Jewish festivals.

In Judaism, the daily synagogue services are thought of as having replaced the daily Temple sacrifices. This connection is made clear in the Siddur itself, where the first part of the morning service includes portions recalling the sacrifices. Other portions of the liturgy are directly concerned with sin and forgiveness. Thus, with the Temple no longer in existence, it is the daily synagogue service which serves as a reminder of sins, year after year. In fact, it makes sense for the Conservative and Reform Jewish movements to apply the term “Temple” to synagogues if synagogue prayers are equivalent to Temple sacrifices.

Compare verse 4 with Do I [God] eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” ~ Psalm 50:13 (CJB).

Opponents of the Brit Hadashah sometimes claim that in this passage (verses 5-7) the author distorts the Tanakh to prove that Yeshua is the Son of God. More specifically, they hold, first, that Psalm 40 (especially verses 6-8) does not refer to the Messiah at all, and second, that several of its lines are intentionally misquoted.

The answer to the first objection is that although the Psalm itself expresses its author’s gratitude at deliverance from trouble or sickness, our author, aware that the Messiah could have revealed His conception of His task on earth with these words, uses the passage midrashically for this purpose. This procedure, legitimate if all understand that the text is being used in this elastic fashion, was common among Jewish authors of the time.

The answer to the second objection is that the author accurately quotes the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Tanakh prepared by Jewish translators more than two centuries before Yeshua was born; but it is necessary to examine three phrases more thoroughly.

There is so much more that could be said about these seven verses, but time doesn’t permit it now.

In my next post, we’ll conclude Messianic Jews 10:1-10 ~ The Superiority and Finality of the New Covenant by examining Yeshua As the Once for All Sacrifice.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

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